President Judge Ridgely
Fiscal Year 2002
Welcome to the Superior Court of Delaware!
During FY2002 the Superior Court was honored to be recognized as the
premier court of general jurisdiction in the country in a Harris
of the nation's top corporate counsel
and senior litigators. The poll was commissioned by the United States
Chamber of Commerce. The Superior Court was recognized for "having
a litigation environment perceived to be fair and reasonable in its
handling of civil cases." The survey focused on eight categories
of practice: tort and contract litigation, treatment of class actions,
punitive damages, timeliness of summary judgment/dismissal, discovery,
scientific and technical evidence, judges' impartiality and competence,
and juries' predictability and fairness. In all eight categories the
Superior Court rated first in the nation.
The Superior Court's Web site has been updated and
continues to provide a comprehensive guide for the legal community
as well as the public. The information provided includes daily calendars,
the history of the court, information on e-litigation, Drug Court,
juror orientation, case management and jury management plans, job
postings, rules, forms, a self-help center and victim information.
A concerted effort is made to keep the Web site current and accessible.
The Criminal Case Management Plans for Kent and Sussex Counties were updated this year. In New Castle
County, the Criminal Case Management Committee drafted a new Criminal
Case Management Plan and looks to implementation in early 2003. In
all counties, the Superior Court has experienced an increase in the
number of filings and yet has reduced its pending caseload statewide
by 7.3%. In New Castle County, the number of cases pending over 120
days from indictment has been reduced by over 40% in the past year.
The use of performance measures has kept the Judges and managers of
the court abreast of the Court's progress.
The last fiscal year has seen changes in facilities
for all three counties. While in New
Castle County the Court prepared for the move
into the new courthouse, the Kent
County Courthouse renovation was completed
and in Sussex
County a major renovation has begun. In New
Castle County, with the move into the new courthouse, it will for
the first time be possible for all Judges to be in court at the same
time as we will have a sufficient number of courtrooms for each Judge
The Superior Court has continued its involvement
in the improvement of the administration of justice on a national
level as well. Judge Richard Gebelein and I have worked on the American
Bar Association's Drug Court Standard.
This standard was approved by the ABA House of
Delegates in August of 2001 and has been endorsed by the Conference
of Chief Justices and the Criminal Justice Section of the ABA.
The Superior Court was selected by the United
States Department of Justice as one of nine
pilot sites in the country to test the concept of reentry
, which focus on creating accountability
systems and support networks for offenders returning to their communities
after incarceration. Two approaches to re-entry are being tested by
Court, one targets domestic violence offenders
in Sussex County, the other, in New Castle County, targets the general
population of returning offenders.
The Superior Court faced personnel and resource
challenges during FY2002, with both budget cuts and a hiring freeze.
Added to this was the needs presented by the move into the New Castle
County Courthouse. With additional courtrooms, offices spread out
over a larger area, the need for additional staff has become acute.
Despite the constraints experienced, the employees of the Superior
Court continue to be UNITED,
reflecting our core values of Unity, Neutrality, Integrity, Timeliness,
Equality and Dedication. Service
to the public in pursuit of justice continues at the high level expected
of the Superior Court of Delaware.